National Safety Month: Slips, trips and falls are no joke

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Pratfalls in television and movies can be comedy gold. Chevy Chase practically built his career on them. But slips, trips and falls at home or at work are no joke.

Stats from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration show most general industry incidents involve slips, trips and falls, causing 15 percent of all accidental deaths. Here in Ohio, 1 out of every 6 workplace fatalities involve slips, trips, and falls.

Slips, trips and falls can be fatal outside of work too. In fact, they’re the fourth leading cause of deaths in the home.

Stats like the ones above are the reason preventing slips, trips and falls are a major focus of our current safety campaign. It’s also why we participated in last month’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls.

The good news is slips, trips and falls are almost always preventable if we all just pay a little more attention and take a few, simple precautions. For example:

  • Keeping walking areas clear and dry.
  • Using proper footwear for the job.
  • Placing ladders on clean, dry, stable surfaces.
  • Looking around before starting a task.

Finally, office environments aren’t immune from hazards, including slips, trips and falls. This article from the National Safety Council (NSC) has helpful information on recognizing and eliminating hidden dangers in the office.

For additional information, visit the NSC’s National Safety Month webpage.

National Safety Month: Worker wellness and workplace safety – a dynamic duo

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Abbott and Costello, peanut butter and jelly, R2-D2 and C-3PO. Some people, foods and droids are just better together. The same goes for employee wellness and workplace safety.

The National Safety Council’s Campbell Institute recently released a report stating workplaces should expand beyond initiatives such as smoking cessation and weight loss to include health and safety issues such as fitness, nutrition, workplace fatigue, overtime management and job security.

This same approach is the foundation for the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH’s) Total Worker Health® Program. As a Total Worker Health Affiliate, we work with NIOSH to foster and reinforce an integrated approach to protecting and promoting worker well-being. We’re also committed to improving the health and wellness of Ohio workers with programs such as our recently launched Better You, Better Ohio!™ program and our workplace wellness grants.

Our Better You, Better Ohio! program provides health and wellness resources and services to workers who work for small employers (50 or fewer workers) in high-risk industries. Eligible employers and workers can sign up at no cost and through a simple, paperless process. Workers can pursue a healthier lifestyle through:

  • Free health assessments and biometric screenings to better understand their health and well-being.
  • A member engagement website that allows them to develop health plans and track their progress to achieve their health goals.
  • Health and wellness awareness, education and training.
  • Digital coaching to help them on their journey to better health.

Meanwhile, Ohio employers can reap the benefits of having a healthy workforce. Healthy employees are less prone to injury. And, when they are injured, their ability to recover is enhanced greatly.

While we’re working for Ohioans, the National Safety Council (NSC) is promoting wellness as this week’s National Safety Month theme. Visit the NSC website for materials like this wellness tip sheet.

National Safety Month: Will you be ready if disaster strikes?

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

From volcanic eruptions to active shooter situations, the news in recent weeks has been a reminder that unexpected dangers come in many forms and can be just around the corner.

Emergency preparedness – the theme of week one of National Safety Month – is also a reminder that we can all do something to be ready when disaster strikes. The National Safety Council (NSC) reminds us emergency situations can happen at any time, making it crucial that we’re prepared for the unexpected long before it happens.

The NSC has created an emergency preparedness tip sheet that outlines ways to plan for emergency situations and how to stock emergency kits for your home and car.

It’s also important to know what disasters and hazards could affect your area. Tsunami preparedness isn’t something we need to worry about in Ohio. On the other hand, flooding and tornadoes are common weather emergencies here. Ready.gov provides a webpage with links to inform you about what to do before, during and after a variety of emergency situations.

The first step is having an emergency plan for you and your family. Start by asking yourself these four questions.

  1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  2. What is my shelter plan?
  3. What is my evacuation route?
  4. What is my family/household communication plan?

Visit ready.gov’s Make a Plan page for help with the questions above and for a comprehensive list for making an emergency preparedness plan.

Remember: disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can.

National Safety Month: If you don’t care about your safety, who will?

By Melissa Vince, BWC Public Relations Manager

Workplace accidents can uproot our lives in so many ways. Not only do we need medical care and time to recover, we may not be able to quickly return to work or family and community activities.

That’s why BWC takes time every June to talk about National Safety Month and the importance of safety and prevention of on-the-job injuries.

This year, we’re doing more than just talking about safety. We’re taking an entirely new approach.

Dr. Abe Al-Tarawneh, Superintendent of BWC’s Division of Safety & Hygiene, details our efforts in this letter to the editor recently published in the Cambridge Daily Jeffersonian.

Dear editor,

Slips, trips and falls, overexertions and motor vehicle accidents are responsible for more than 60 percent of disabling workplace injuries. In the workplace, most of these accidents are preventable by establishing a strong safety culture throughout the organization.

But, these types of accidents don’t just happen at work – they’re very common at home, too. Because we at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation care about Ohio employees no matter where they are, we dedicated $2 million statewide to raise awareness for safety and education to address these common accidents as part of our $44 million safety pledge.

This is an entirely new approach for the BWC. Typically, we strive to reach Ohio’s workers through employers. For this initiative, we’re targeting Ohioans, like you, directly. You may have already seen our 30-second commercial on FOX Sports Ohio – it’s the one with the guardian angels, an instantly recognizable symbol of protection. Instead of scaring or shaming individuals into being safe, we have taken a humorous approach to get Ohioans talking about safety in a positive way.

It’s human nature to think that accidents will never happen to you, therefore, many of those most at risk for injury through slips, trips, falls, overexertions and driving related accidents do not have safety and injury prevention top-of-mind throughout the day. Hopefully, this unexpected humorous approach to safety not only caught your attention and made you laugh, but also inspired you to feel empowered to take your safety into your own hands and practice safe behaviors no matter where you are. As our guardian angel reminds us – “If you don’t care about your safety, who will?”

This approach builds on our current successful safety efforts. Those efforts, which are primarily aimed at helping employers create safer workplaces, have led to fewer work-related injuries and the lowest number of claims in at least two decades. These programs have also proven popular, as the Division of Safety & Hygiene saw a 71 percent increase in the number of employers using its safety programs and services between 2010 and 2015.

Keep an eye out for us this summer – we’ll be sharing our safety message throughout Ohio. You can also learn more about our effort to create a culture of safety in Ohio by visiting BeSafeOhio.com.

Dr. Abe Al-Tarawneh, Superintendent, BWC Division of Safety & Hygiene

We’ll also be sharing more this National Safety Month right here on the the BWC Blog.

Each week has a different theme. Keep an eye out for more on these topics in the coming weeks:

  • Week 1: Emergency Preparedness
  • Week 2: Wellness
  • Week 3: Falls
  • Week 4: Driving

Be Safe Ohio!

Kudos to our Safety Council of the Year Awards winners!

By Michelle Francisco, BWC Safety Council Program Manager

All 83 Ohio safety councils do their part to keep workers and workplaces safe in their communities. We view them all as vital partners in making Ohio a safer and healthier place to work.

Each May, Ohio’s safety council sponsors and leaders meet to get the latest news, network and share best practices in safety council program management. At this annual event, we honor the highest achieving programs in the state with our Safety Council of the Year Awards.

BWC’s Chief Medical and Health Officer John Annarino presented the Grand Award for first place to the Stark County Safety Council, sponsored by the Canton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Mid-Ohio Valley Safety Council, sponsored by the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, took home the second-place award.

In third place was the Salem Area Safety Council, a division of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce.

Taking home fourth place was the Sandusky County Safety Council, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Sandusky County.

Four additional safety councils earned an honorable mention, including the:

Congratulations to the 2017 Safety Council of the Year award recipients! And thanks to all the Ohio safety councils for partnering with us and our Division of Safety & Hygiene’s mission to maintain and grow a safe, healthy, competitive and productive workforce in Ohio.

Visit bwc.ohio.gov for more information about the Safety Council Program.

We want you to present at OSC19!

By Julie Darby Martin, BWC Safety Congress Manager

Do you have knowledge to share that can keep workplaces safe and healthy? Are you good in front of a crowd?

If so, you could be a potential presenter for our Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2019 (OSC19), the nation’s largest occupational-focused safety and health event. We’re now accepting presentation proposals for this multi-day event, scheduled for March 6 – 8, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio.

OSC19 will feature more than 200 educational sessions taught by experts from across the nation. Topics include:

  • Safety management;
  • Government and regulation;
  • Health, wellness and rehabilitation;
  • Emergency preparedness and response;
  • Workers’ compensation;
  • Driving and transportation;
  • Training and education;
  • Personal protective equipment;
  • And much more.

We are seeking one-hour educational sessions, panel discussions and live demonstrations as well as three-hour and six-hour workshops. Typical attendees include occupational safety and risk-management directors, workers’ compensation managers, health and wellness leaders, and individuals with an interest in occupational safety and health, wellness, and rehabilitation of injured workers.

We’re accepting applications until July 13. For application guidelines and to register, visit our call for presentations site. Want to get a glimpse of the event? Check out our OSC18 Twitter recap.

Celebrate National Nurses Week, Day: May 6 – 12

Nurses: Inspire, Innovate, Influence

By Mary Charney, BWC Director of Nursing

Inspire, Innovate, Influence. That’s the theme for National Nurses Week, which runs from Sunday, May 6, to Saturday, May 12 (National Nurses Day celebrating Florence Nightingale’s birthday).

This year’s theme also reflects the important role nurses have in holistically caring for Ohio’s injured workers at work and home.

Better You, Better Ohio!,BWC’s health and wellness program for employers (including health care clinics, offices, practices and centers) of 50 or less employees, emphasizes the importance of employee and injured worker wellness for lifelong health.

BWC nurses lead the way

Our 58 nurses work in a variety of areas, from medical policy and employee health to rehabilitation, claims management and clinical advisement. They inspire, innovate and influence Ohio’s injured workers and our employees to manage their health and they promote the highest quality of life and well-being for all of us.

We, along with the rest of the nation, devote this week to highlighting the diverse ways registered nurses work to improve health care.

In honor of National Nurses Week, we thank our nursing professionals for what he or she does every day at work and within our communities. Nurses make a difference by inspiring, innovating and influencing all of us throughout our lives.

Largest, most trusted health-care profession

Nursing is the largest of all health-care professions, according to the American Nurses Association (ANA). For the 16th consecutive year, the American public ranks nurses as the professionals with the highest honesty and ethical standards, based on a Gallup poll.  The ANA believes advocacy is a pillar of nursing.  Accordingly, the ANA calls on nurses, as one of the most trusted professions, to be healthy role models.

In its Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation Grand Challenge, a nationwide movement, the ANA states, “If all four million nurses increased their personal wellness and then their families, coworkers and patients followed suit, what a healthier nation we would live in! That’s the goal of the grand challenge an initiative to connect and engage nurses, employers and organizations around improving health in five areas: physical activity, nutrition, rest, quality of life and safety.”

Health, safety and wellness risks for nurses

The Executive Summary of the ANA Health Risk Appraisal (HRA) findings reports,

“Nurses and nursing students face unique hazards in the workplace and multiple health, safety and wellness risks.” The findings suggest that “nurses are less healthy than the average American. Research shows they experience 2.8 times more stress, have a 30 percent less nutritious diet, five percent higher body mass index (BMI), and get 10 percent less sleep. The HRA results show there is room for improvement in nurses’ health, particularly with physical activity, nutrition, rest, safety and quality of life.

“As seen by the fact that 68 percent of the nurses reported putting the health, safety and wellness of their patients before their own, now is the time to educate nurses and employers on the importance of nurse self-care.”

To help lessen safety risks for nurses related to patient lifting, needle sticks and/or infection control, BWC’s Division of Safety & Hygiene, offers safety grants for health-care employers to improve patient and staff safety. If a nurse is injured, our transitional work grants program helps transition injured nurses back to work safely and quickly.

In summary, “nurses are critical to our nation’s (and our state’s) health. Healthy nurses are great role models for their patients, colleagues, families and neighbors.”

Promoting health and a balanced lifestyle is just one nursing role. Every day, BWC’s nurses strive to serve as the best resource and provide excellent service for Ohio’s injured workers and our employees.